Mars is a busy place these days. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Chinese space agency both have strong scientific activity underway on and around the Red Planet. Although the two agencies conduct their scientific observations independently, the two expeditions “cross paths”, so to speak.
China’s Tianwen-1 lander and Zhurong rover landed on Mars on March 14. While NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) orbits Mars and makes scientific observations.
Last week, the MRO clicked pictures of China’s Zhurong rover. What’s interesting about these photos is that they clearly show Zhurong’s “footprints” on the Red Planet. The tracks made by the Zhurongs wheels are clearly visible in these photos. What else? These tracks can be traced back to the lander.
In other words, Zhurong’s entire trip to Mars is visible in these photos. These photos were taken by the MRO using the HiRise on-board camera. NASA also tweeted these photos. To see the traces, you have to zoom in on the photos.
MRO is in orbit about 316 kilometers above the surface of Mars. At this height, it is able to take pictures in which objects a foot away can be observed distinctly. This ability makes the MRO capable of spotting rovers on the Martian surface.
The HiRise camera has already spotted NASA’s Opportunity, Curiosity and Perseverance rovers.